Today @NCCapitol (April 2): Lawmakers back to work on education, airport and drunk driving bills
Posted April 2, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Tuesday, April 2. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government this morning.
FIRST UP: The Council of State will meet at 9 a.m. The agenda is relatively light, with the group of 10 statewide elected officials mainly reviewing land sales and leases. Gov. Pat McCrory will chair.
SENATE CALENDAR: The Senate meets at 2 p.m. with three bills on its calendar. One of the measures would require more state oversight of newly formed mental health managed care agencies.
HOUSE CALENDAR: The House meets at 2 p.m. and will deal with a number of matters, including when counties may remove abandoned boats from public waters and when local governments may hold special elections. WRAL.com will carry the House session live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker talk about a bill that would slow down divorce proceeding in North Carolina and preview Tuesday's action in The Wrap @NCCapitol.
DIX: When Dix Hill was chosen as the location of "The North Carolina Hospital for the Insane," it was seen as a peaceful spot where patients could recover their faculties. The battle over what to do with the property now that there is no longer a hospital there belies that sense of peace. WRAL.com outlines the history of the Dix campus, from its original land acquisition to today's legislative battles.
MARRIAGE: State lawmakers are considering making divorces harder to get in North Carolina. Senate Bill 518, dubbed the Healthy Marriage Act, would double the one-year waiting period before a divorce could be granted and would require husband and wife to receive conflict resolution counseling, as well as counseling if they have children. Supporters said they believe the restrictions will help cut the state's divorce rate.
COMMITTEES: For a complete listing of today's committees, see the main @NCCapitol page. Among the highlights:
House Education (10 a.m. | 643 LOB): Lawmakers take up a bill that would change how public schools are graded. The state adopted an A-through-F grading system as part of the state budget last year year. HB 435 would expand the criteria on which those grades are issued. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
Senate Judiciary II (10 a.m. | 1124 LB): More people convicted of drunk driving offenses would have to install ignition interlocks on their cars under a bill the committee will review. Interlock devices require that drivers blow into a breathalyzer before their car will start. NTSB has recommended using them for all those convicted of drunk driving offenses. The state has had some problem with its ignition interlock vendors.
House Health and Human Services (10 a.m. | 544 LOB): The committee takes up a measure that would require those applying for food stamps and other public assistance submit to criminal background checks.
House Transportation (Noon | 643 LOB): The Senate has already passed a bill that would take control of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport away from the City of Charlotte and put it in the hands of a regional authority. The House Transportation Committee is due to discuss, but not vote on, its own version of the bill. WRAL.com will carry this meeting live. Check the Video Central box on our home page.
Senate Finance (1 p.m. | 544 LOB): Many boat owners would pay higher annual registration fees under a bill meant to raise money for dredging coastal channels.
NOTED: Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby became the latest prosecutor in the state to instruct law enforcement on how to crack down on sweepstakes games, which state law views as illegal gambling operations. In a letter to the Wake County Sheriff's Department and others, Willoughby clears away the gray area under which they've operated, writing "we have reason to believe that these activities are illegal and in violation of North Carolina law." Despite at least two sweepstakes companies having lobbyists at the General Assembly, no bill dealing with the games has been filed yet. Click here for more from last week.
ELSEWHERE: News worth notice from Monday included:
- The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday adjusted the county's business grant policy to provide money to MetLife Group Inc., which plans to open a technology hub in Cary.
- The Obama administration is delaying parts of a program intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees – a major selling point for the health care legislation.
- "New Hanover County is almost out of options to remove Commissioner Brian Berger from office – primarily because Wednesday is the deadline for state legislators to file local bills," reports the Star News of Wilmington. "But beyond Berger’s resignation, there are currently only four ways to remove an elected official in North Carolina: if the member is convicted of a felony, corruption, financial or election law violations; the board files an amotion; or the attorney general brings action on behalf of the state in Superior Court. The state legislature could also pass an act removing him."